It’s the holiday season, so whoop-dee-doo, and dickory-dock, and don’t forget that you’re probably in hock.
Yes, I refer to this profession as a labor of love for many reasons, not the least of which is that it doesn’t bestow upon me the riches to buy lavish Christmas gifts.
Check that. I don’t have two nickels fit for friction at this point. But who needs moolah? There is power in the pen, or at least the keyboard. And ’tis the thought that counts.
So while I sit here and fret the gift/party favor that I will realize I forgot — two minutes after the stores close Dec. 24, no doubt — what better way to pass the time and share the spirit than bestow a few sports-related “gifts” that would be tagged from me, if I had the power?
Let’s see who has been naughty and who has been moderately less naughty …
To local high school basketball coaches: A January and February without any headaches from confrontation with parents. Because, after all, it’s Christmas, the time of year when we talk about Santa Claus, world peace, and other things none of us have actually seen.
To anyone charged with recruiting athletes to the University of Maine: Substantial improvements to the on-campus physical plant, and not merely the lipstick-on-a-pig variety. It’s hard to compete with national powers in Championship Subdivision football and mid-major Division I basketball programs when they’re showing off a snazzy condominium compared to your ice fishing shack.
To Maine high school football, lacrosse and hockey: A classification system that weighs tradition and recent accomplishment and much as schools’ raw enrollment numbers. Then, and only then, will we avoid the eyesore of regular-season blowouts and forfeited playoff games.
To Celtics fans: The wisdom to see that Rajon Rondo is not a star unless he is surrounded by stars, and to stop exacerbating their stomach ulcers over his departure.
To Red Sox manager John Farrell: Career years from each of the No. 4 and No. 5 starters your front office caught on the rebound after being jilted by Jon Lester.
To the Portland Pirates: Forgiveness and re-acceptance from your fan base. I’m not close enough to the situation to decide whether it’s deserved or not, but neither are many of the merciful things we do for one another at this time of year.
To high school basketball players: Broken electronic devices, terminal boredom, and weather warm enough to keep the ice from accumulating on your driveway. The overall level of play from top to bottom isn’t what it was 20, 30 or 40 years, but it’s nothing that can’t be fixed by the athletes putting up more shots on their own, year-round, instead of waiting for adults to organize and micromanage things.
To all youth sports coaches and athletic trainers: The wisdom and clear vision to continue dealing with the concussion issue in an intelligent, proactive way. I think we’ve made giant strides. I believe we still have a long way to go.
To competitive skiers: A giant pile of snow that arrives in dumptruck fashion on or around Jan. 1, so I only have to shovel once, and then disappears five minutes after your final scheduled meet is complete. I feel this is a completely reasonable compromise.
To Jameis Winston and Johnny Manziel: A spike in maturity to a level commensurate with their ridiculous God-given abilities, lest they become the inevitable cautionary tales to their generation.
To New England Patriots’ offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels: A postseason’s supply of Run the Dadgummed Ball on First-and-10 and Third-and-2, Already.
To the Fighting Spirit, or whatever the new Androscoggin Bank Colisee tenant calls itself after its move across the state line: Appreciation, or at least a level of support greater than the apathy that too often handicapped the two previous stakeholders.
To high school football players who get their mail north of the Falmouth Spur between the two interstates: Their own player of the year award.
To mixed martial arts and boxing: Continued growth. Watching one sport’s popularity explode in Maine and seeing the other undergo a revival is one of the coolest things to happen here this decade.
To Oxford Plains Speedway: Good weather, favor with formerly disenfranchised racers, and a positive result from the date change for its marquee event. The place has meant a lot to me over the years. I hate watching it struggle.
To the NFL: Playoffs that will alleviate at least some of the stench from a substandard year, on and off the field.
To the local golf industry: No need for heavy equipment to remove two-foot-thick blocks of ice from greens April 1.
To my family: Much love for putting up with the nights, weekends and beautiful summer days that are consumed by this career.
To my readers: Humble thanks for all your emails, conversations, social media interactions and overall support and validation, this and every year. You’re the reason I’m still here. Merry Christmas and a happy, prosperous New Year to you and yours.
Kalle Oakes is a staff writer. His email is [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Oaksie72.